Maybe First Lady Michelle Obama will succeed where others have failed in rehabilitating President Obama’s record regarding the Veterans Affairs Department and the decision to release five members of the Taliban to rescue a man many vets think is a deserter.
Less than a week after VA secretary Eric Shinseki resigned over the department’s recent scandals, Mrs. Obama held an event touting efforts by the VA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to fight homelessness among veterans.
“Almost 90 percent of today’s homeless veterans served before 9/11, but this is the first time anyone has made this a government-wide priority,” she said Wednesday. “We’ve got HUD and the VA and the Interagency Council leading the way, and we’re also working with the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor and nonprofits and community leaders on the ground. We’ve cut through red tape and streamlined efforts across agencies, and together, we have made some extraordinary progress.”
Toward the end of her remarks, the first lady seemed, intentionally or not, to tie the homelessness issue to the Bergdahl exchange.
“So just like it’s our country’s duty to bring back all of our men and women from the battlefield, we’ve also got a duty to make sure that every single veteran has a place to call home when they get here – and for the rest of their lives,” Mrs. Obama said.
Her comments echo President Obama’s remarks in announcing the exchange, which he said was “a reminder of America’s unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield.”
Soldiers who served with Bergdahl don’t think the principle works quite like that. “It’s great that he’s back and that we can have that very small victory, if you can even call it a victory, because I believe . . . we gave up a lot for what we got back,” former Army sergeant Evan Buetow, Bergdahl’s team leader when he disappeared, told CNN.